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6 Best Places in North Carolina to Go Leaf Peeping in Fall

Fall is finally here (even though the temperatures may not totally feel like it yet), which means it’s time for pumpkin patches, apple picking, and of course, lots of leaf peeping. And the scenic state of North Carolina is one of the prime locations in the country to catch views of the beautiful changing leaves. Whether you want to get out and experience them up close on a hike or you’d rather snap some Instagram-worthy shots from the comfort of your car, the Tarheel State has got you covered this fall.

Grandfather Mountain, Linville At Grandfather Mountain, you can choose to hike an accessible trail or a more challenging trail through the park's backcountry.
Credit: At Grandfather Mountain, you can choose to hike an accessible trail or a more challenging trail through the park's backcountry. by Grandfather.com

Grandfather Mountain, Linville

Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak on the eastern portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a popular spot for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers year-round. But, this famous spot becomes even more popular during the fall months because of the amazing views of the changing colors. At nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, it offers panoramic views in every direction. Plus, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can cross over the Mile High Swinging Bridge for even more amazing views.

Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Credit: Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park by © Chansak Aroonmanakul | Dreamstime.com

Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock

Another popular spot with hikers and climbers, Chimney Rock, is also another prime location for fall colors. This massive granite monolith is estimated to be over 500 million years old and offers some of the most dramatic views of the North Carolina mountains from its peak. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional climber or advanced hiker to enjoy the views. There are several easy trails to take you to the top.

Blowing Rock Blowing Rock overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
Credit: Blowing Rock overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway by © Apisit Rapeepanpianpen | Dreamstime.com

Blowing Rock

The picturesque mountain town of Blowing Rock looks like something that came straight out of a fairytale, with its quaint main street, charming shops and welcoming restaurants and pubs. It also offers amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in pretty much every direction you look, making it another great stop for leaf peeping. Take a drive along the winding roads in and around the town or get out and go for a leisurely walk around nearby Bass Lake.

Banner Elk From the top of Sugar Mountain looking at Tyne Castle in Banner Elk, North Carolina
Credit: From the top of Sugar Mountain looking at Tyne Castle in Banner Elk, North Carolina by Craig Zerbe/shutterstock.com

Banner Elk

Just down the road from Blowing Rock is another quaint North Carolina mountain town with plenty of fall color – Banner Elk. Since it’s situated at 3,701 feet above sea level, you can catch changing colors here anytime from late September through the end of October. You can choose to view them from the many different trails around town or if you like to get out on the water, grab your canoe or kayak and set afloat on Wildcat Lake.

Asheville Biltmore Estate
Credit: Biltmore Estate by © Gary Bydlo | Dreamstime.com


When it comes to the mountains of Western North Carolina, there’s no better place to visit than Asheville. From the many trails and parks to the Biltmore Estate and everything in between, there are numerous places here to snap some Instagram-worthy shots of the beautiful fall colors. Take a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, go for a hike, or explore the grounds at Biltmore and you won’t be disappointed.

Beech Mountain Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain

Since Beech Mountain is Eastern America’s Highest Town, at 5,506 feet above sea level, it’s kind of a no-brainer when it comes to good leaf-peeping spots in North Carolina. But, because of its elevation, you do have to make sure to visit it early if you want to catch the best colors. Even though the rest of the state doesn’t start seeing peak colors until mid-to-late October, the colors here in Beech Mountain are at their best and most vibrant in the first half of October. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails throughout the town for up-close peeping, Buckeye Lake if you prefer to see the colors from the water or, for a unique and truly breathtaking view, take a ride on the chairlift at the Beech Mountain Ski Resort.

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